Earlier today, just after the market open, the one company that everyone had once again piled into, and which as of September 30 was the most held company by the hedge fund community with at least 175 "smart money" institutional fans based on expectations that with every other stock and asset becoming increasingly illiquid, at least this one would preserve its liquidity come hell or high water, flash crashed. The company is Apple, So what happend? Between 9:49:54 and 9:50:43 Eastern, AAPL plunged from nearly 6%, from $117.69 to $111.27, a moved which wiped out one Transcanada (or one Travelers, or one Lukoil, or one Carnival, or one Christian Dior, or one Hyundai Motor Company, or one Takeda, or one State Street) in market cap.
There is a saying that you don’t ring bells at the top. It’s not really true. Every time the market forms a major peak, at least in the last 15 years, there are usually a preponderance of signs of excessive speculation and leverage.
A few points the "stocks are cheap" crowd should consider.
Looking for answers to both financial safety as well as financial freedom in the same light or viewpoint where it seems one only needs to “think like a billionaire” or “tweak” or “slightly modify” perceptions on how one approaches these financial markets today – will hurt more than it will help. The Wall Street everyone believes they are dealing with today is just in name and memory. What made sense just 6 years ago not only doesn’t but rather if you try to apply any sense that resembles “common sense” you might as well be asking the Cheshire cat for a more straight answer. "How exactly are you handling the stresses and strains having to basically push sound fundamental theories or market underpinnings aside and now trade and position money at risk based solely on what some Central Bank will do next?" This is the avenue I wish Tony had driven or sought.
The S&P 500 is now up 12.5% from the Bullard lows in mid-October and has broken to new record highs over 2048 - within 2 points of Goldman Sachs year-end target. Since Bullard's comments, the S&P 500 has been up 19 days and down only 5 (and today will be the 23rd day in a row of closing above its 5-day moving-average - a record!) WTI crude oil prices are collapsing back to cycle lows below $75 but perhaps most notable is the plunge in 'implied correlation' - which measures the relative demand for individual stock protection over index macro protection. Implied correlation is at a record low - which suggests capitulation among those with macro overlays (like Carl Icahn)...
It seems Carl Icahn will not be going activist on the S&P500 after all. During the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York on Monday, the 78 year old billionaire said that "I am still concerned that one day you'll see a break like you had a few weeks ago but it won't come back."
Overnight weakness from Japan (NKY -3%) and USDJPY slowly leaked away as Europe was bid - bouncing higher on Draghi's SovQE "whatever it takes" comments (and multiple broken markets), but once he stopped speaking stocks faded to the lows of the day at the European Close. Once it was just the American algos playing, the S&P and Dow ripped back to green. However, Small Caps, Nasdaq and Trannies were not playing along, nor was VIX or HY Credit. The USD surged 0.45% (on EUR weakness) which stalled the bounce in commodities. Gold flatlined through the US session (-0.25%) with Silver -1% (bouncing this afternoon). Oil prices slipped 0.5% again (but above Friday's lows) at $75.50. Treasury yields rose 1-2bps on the day (but 5-6bps off the overnight lows as Europe opened) but flatlined during US session. Most notably, it seems many feel like Carl Icahn that a major correction is coming and hedging via VIX and HY credit was significant.
As its recent 10-K confirmed, AAPL's domestic cash - the amount of cash available for such corporate transactions as dividends and buybacks - had dropped to just $18.1 billion (and that is including the several billion in commercial paper issued in fiscal Q4), the lowest domestic cash hoard since March 2010, a time when AAPL's offshore cash was a tiny $24 billion compared to the near record $137 billion last quarter! So knowing full well that a buyback a day keep the Icahnator away, AAPL, urgently looking to refill its domestic cash since its offshore cash remains untouchable (absent being taxed on its repatriation), did the only thing it could do: prepare to issue more bonds, which is what we forecast would happen a few weeks ago, and what the WSJ overnight confirmed is already in progress.
- To salvage his presidency, Obama faces pressure to reboot - but will he? (Reuters)
- Pro-Russian separatist Zakharchenko wins Ukraine rebel vote (Reuters)
- Russia's Recognition of Ukrainian Separatist Election Is 'Incomprehensible,' Germany Says (Moscow Times)
- Man Running World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Tackles China Riddle (BBG)
- Russian Supply Underpins Global Oil Glut (WSJ)
- Argentina accuses Procter & Gamble of tax fraud, says suspends operations (Reuters)
- ECB Skips Fireworks for Day One of New Role as Supervisor (BBG)
- HSBC Hit by $1.7 Billion of Provisions (WSJ)
High-yield bond issuance has surged in recent days as 'wide' spreads have encouraged investors to take the dip once again (despite firms' record leverage and increasing desperation to roll the wall of maturing debt). However, it's not all guns blazing, as one manager noted, "while the market reopens, it reopens with issuers having to be a little more investor friendly." Despite Carl Icahn's warning that "the high-yield bond market is in a major bubble that's gonna burst," Bullard's "QE4" comments sparked Goldman to add US junk bonds and Aberdeen says selling EU and buying US corporate debt "is the trade that kind of screams at you right now." The dash-for-trash down-in-quality is back as CCC-demand surges and, as one trader notes the market's schizophrenia: "one day the market feels like it is shut down and you can’t sell anything and you wake up this morning and you can price any part of the curve."
It will be the plotline of scary stories parents tell their children for decades to come: in Q1 2014, the US economy was supposed to grow 3%... and then it snowed. This led to a -2% collapse in the world's largest economy. Yes, inconceivably heavy snowfall (in the winter), and frigid temperatures (in the winter), were the reason for a $100+ billion swing in US GDP. Well, as the following chart from DB's Torsten Slok shows, of the roughly $2 trillion in GDP the global economy is expected to grow in 2015, about 90% of that is expected to come from China and the US!
"The Fed is really holding the market up.... The Fed turned this market around here because it let it be known that the Fed funds rate isn't going to be raised in March. I am concerned about the high yield market, I think that's in a major bubble, but nobody knows when it's gonna burst." - Carl Icahn
- Privately, Saudis tell oil market: get used to lower prices (Reuters)
- OPEC Members’ Rift Deepens Amid Falling Oil Prices (WSJ)
- Russia Spending $6 Billion Not Enough to Stop Ruble Rout on Oil (BBG)
- Deutsche clampdown on bad behaviour prompts exodus of traders (FT)
- Can't beat the spin: China trade data eases slowdown fears, more stimulus may still be needed (Reuters)
- China’s Exports Buoy Growth as IPhone Inflates Imports (BBG)
- Italy on Sale to Chinese Investors as Recession Bites (BBG)
- Hong Kong Protesters, Antiprotest Activists Clash (WSJ)
- Turkey Offers Military Bases to U.S.-Led Coalition (BBG) ... and the price is a small piece of post-Assad Syria
- Passenger With Flu-Like Symptoms Causes Ebola Scare At LAX (CBS)
- Boston patient deemed unlikely to have Ebola virus (Boston Globe)
- It wasn't Obama this time: Pakistani teen, Indian activist win Nobel Peace Prize (Reuters)
- Surging VIX Shakes Bulls as S&P 500 Charts Go Haywire (BBG)
- Global shares hit six-month low as growth worries mount (Reuters)
- Police, protesters clash in St. Louis ahead of weekend of rallies (Reuters)
- We're Sitting on 10 Billion Barrels of Oil! OK, Two (BBG)
- Spain seeks answers as seven more enter Ebola isolation (Reuters)
- Iran will sell its oil to Asia in November at the biggest discount (BBG)
- Redefining honeypot: U.S. DEA 'most interested' in U.S. investors in Canadian marijuana firms (Reuters)
- UKIP Wins First Commons District With Conservative Defector (BBG)
- Fake Ebola Patients Help Hospitals Prepare for Next Case (BBG)
While he still holds many stocks, Billionaire investor Carl Icahn joins the ranks of many of his billionaire market-watchers and is "hedging with S&P Puts," because he is "concerned about the whole economy." As he explains in this brief clip, "you can't keep an economy up just from The Fed," and with The Fed withdrawing from its money-printing largesse, Icahn concludes, a big correction "is definitely coming, it's just a matter of when."